To encourage doctors to volunteer at community health centers, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) planned to introduce legislation today that would protect doctors who volunteer at such centers from gross negligence and punitive damages for care rendered at the centers. The bill would be a companion to House legislation introduced in March by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.). Currently only doctors who are paid by the centers have such protection.
President Bush's budget proposal calls for $2 billion for the creation and expansion of 1,200 community health centers. According to lawmakers at a press conference today, centers would have to double their workforce by adding 12,000 clinicians to staff the additional centers. Murphy said that centers are now turning away doctors who want to volunteer their services because of liability concerns.